What is air pollution?
“Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants.” (National Geographic)]
Trivandrum’s Air Quality Index for November 7, 2018 is 134. (AQICN.org)
How is it harmful?
Apart from the obvious breathing issues it can cause, including bronchitis, “conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and lung disease can be made worse by exposure to air pollution”; further, it can cause “long-term damage to people’s nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs.”
Having observed the issue keenly during my stay in this city, I have identified three main sources of localized air pollution :
- Open burning of waste
- Dust from unkempt and broken roads and muddy lanes
- Exhaust fumes from diesel trucks, carriers, buses, and other vehicles.
These three sources, if left unchecked, have tremendous potential to pollute the city to the level people feel uncomfortable walking in the open. This is despite the green cover, that this city, has at present.
Another upcoming source of air pollution is the unmanaged and ever increasing construction activities.
As Kerala is being rebuilt and the state endeavors to retain its natural charm, it is very important for administration and residents to be aware of these dangers.
What are the solutions at hand?
- To minimize burning of waste, people need to be made aware of the harms of open burning of waste and be incentivized to separate recyclable waste.
- Buyers of recyclable waste needs to be roped in to collect it from the residential and commercial units at regular intervals.
- A separate community awareness drive needs to be initiated towards reducing use of one-time plastic.
- People need to be educated on composting of wet waste.
- Municipal corporation/municipality/village panchayat needs to step in to enforce rules for stopping open burning of waste.
- To minimize dust from unkempt roads and muddy lanes, municipal corporation/ municipality/village panchayat need to ensure watering of roads and regular cleaning. At a comprehensive level, scientific planning and construction of roads needs to be undertaken.
- To minimize exhaust fumes from diesel trucks, carriers, buses, and other vehicles, regular inspection of vehicles (made possible through yearly or biannual registration check) and imposing fines at the spot by traffic police personnel (or better, a specially deployed “pollution control personnel”) on erring vehicles are possible solutions.
- At the government level, all subsidies on diesel should be reduced (except a few sensitive categories like water pumps for farmers) as it is the most polluting fuel. Specially for public carriers, such engines must be designed which are low maintenance, high performing, and least polluting.
All need to work towards it…individuals, private players, administration, and Government.
Posted in air pollution, Climate Change, My take, open burning, roads in india, smoke, swachh bharat mission, Waste Management
Tagged diesel, dust, exhaust, municipal corporation, notodiesel, open burning, Plastic, recycling, reduce, reuse, smoke, village panchayat, waste segregation
Hi…I was so happy to see the view from our balcony—only natural beauty and no smoke fumes coming from between the trees.
This is a rare sight, I must tell. Our house lies beyond the Municipal range in Trivandrum, Kerala. In this area, people in stand-alone houses burn their household waste in the open.
This practice is so prevalent that it can potentially be a major air pollution issue.
Further, it is not so only in the areas outside the Municipal range. Even in the main city, this practice is followed. Even though it is an age-old practice to burn waste in the open, the issue becomes serious in today’s times as waste has a dangerous mix of wet items and plastics, among others. When burnt in open conditions, it releases gases and particles – it can adversely affect the respiratory system and contribute to global warming, respectively.
The more the practice is followed, the more implications it will have for public health as well as environment. It needs to be replaced by an alternative waste management strategy.
The question is that how can individuals be convinced to change to an eco-friendly waste management way? The municipal corporations or gram panchayats need to step in.
Waste segregation, and thereafter, collection and disposal, is the way out. A ‘carrot and stick policy’ will help.
While the first step needs to be performed at the household level, the remaining two steps must be performed by public sector, private sector, or both.
Both, public and environmental health need to be accorded top priority.
When the national emphasis is rightly placed on “Swachh Bharat”, thanks to our PM, we need to have a “Swachh Trivandrum” as well.
Posted in air pollution, Climate Change, Environmental facts, My take, Sustainability, swachh bharat mission, Waste Management
Tagged carrot and stick, CORPORATION OF TRIVANDRUM, gram panchayat, Modi, municipal corporation, municipal solid waste, Narendra, PM, recycling, swachh bharat mission, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, TRIVANDRUM, waste, waste segregation
- Less than 1 per cent of Swedish household waste was sent to landfill last year or any year since 2011.
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- Germany recycles more than any other country Germany has the best recycling rate in the world. Austria comes in second, followed by South Korea and Wales. All four countries manage to recycle between 52% and 56% of their municipal waste. Switzerland, in fifth place, recycles almost half of its municipal waste.
- Plastic Ban: What India Can Learn From Other Countries Currently, India generates around 56 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually, where Delhi alone accounts for 9,600 metric tonnes per day. Currently, cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Karwar, Tirumala, Vasco, Rajasthan, Kerala, Punjab and now Madhya Pradesh to name a few have the ban on the plastic bags in place. But, its enforcement and effective implementation is an issue.
- France passed a ‘Plastic Ban’ law in 2016 to fight the growing problem of plastic pollution in the world which states all plastic plates, cups, and utensils will be banned by 2020. France is the first country to ban all the daily-usable products that are made of plastic. The law also follows a total ban on plastic shopping bags. The law aims at cutting the usage of plastic bags in the country by half by 2025.
- Rwanda, a developing country in Africa is plastic bag free since 2008.
- Sweden is following the policy of ‘No Plastic Ban, Instead More Plastic Recycling.’ There is one simple reason behind this – Sweden has world’s best recycling system. Mostly all the trash in Sweden’s system gets burned in incinerators.
- Ireland passed a plastic bag tax in 2002. Within weeks of its implementation, there was a reduction of 94 percent in plastic bag use. And, now plastic bags are widely unacceptable there.
- China instated a law in 2008 to deal with its growing plastic woes. China made it illegal for stores (small or big vendors) to give out plastic bags for free. End result, after two years of the law implementation, usage of plastic bags dropped by a whopping 50%.
Posted in Climate Change, Environment events, Sustainability, swachh bharat mission, Waste Management, world environment day
Tagged Europe, incineration, NDTV, recycling, SWachh, swachh bharat mission, sweden, waste management
Today is an important day for all environment lovers…today is WED 2018! A day to generate awareness about environmental conservation! It is the same environment that gives us air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, and security to carry on with our day to day chores.
However, in our fast-paced life, we forget or ignore that what we take as granted is increasingly coming under threat by our very own actions…
We live as if there is no tomorrow. However, there is…for us and our future generation!
Celebrating WED is a way to remind ourselves of the need to live in a sustainable way.
It is not as difficult as it seems…we just need to add a few points in our daily to-do list.
- Refuse (or atleast reduce use of) disposable plastics, like plastic bottles, plates, cups, spoons, and carry bags.
- Reduce shower time…turn off taps when not in use…replace leaky taps and shower caps…save precious water!
- Turn off electric points when not in use…hunt for energy saving appliances, when buying new ones
- When throwing off an old thing or daily waste, give a serious thought to the possibility of its reuse…Consider reuse, making something out of it, donating or selling it, or otherwise, dispose it off responsibly! Best waste management mantra is…to reduce waste… in the first place!
- It’s time to take note of the activities that are recklessly damaging our environment. We can put collective efforts to curb those activities.
India is the global host of WED 2018. The theme, this year, is ”Beat plastic pollution!” We can do it…can’t we? Happy WED 2018!
Posted in Environment events, Sustainability, swachh bharat mission, Waste Management, world environment day
Tagged energy, Environment conservation, environmental awareness, environmental events, pladtics, pollution, Solid Waste Management, water, WED
Growing environmental awareness on one hand, evident by markings on roads and public places…while fumes smelling of mixed garbage, emanating now and then from between the lush green cover…these are the two contrasting scenes as one travels around Thiruvananthapuram (or Trivandrum), the capital city of Kerala.
While initiatives like the Red FM Plastic Challenge are aiming at creating awareness on recycling plastics, plastics are being mixed up in household garbage and burnt up…
We have initiatives by the Corporation of Trivandrum, like the Green Army, Green Protocol, bio-composting bins and others , which are meant for including all sections of the society into the process of solid waste management. Further, all major supermarkets promote use of cloth bags while use of plastics for the purpose of packing and carrying stuff have been minimized. (Source: Corporation of Trivandrum)
These developments show that even though waste management in Thiruvananthapuram is not ideal, the city still has a chance to save itself from going down the way, like most other Indian metros… It can still be a city NOT weighed down by its own waste!
Posted in Climate Change, Environment events, My take, Sustainability, swachh bharat mission, Waste Management
Tagged CORPORATION OF TRIVANDRUM, GREENERY, municipal solid waste, PLASTIC CHALLENGE, RED FM, Solid Waste Management, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, TRIVANDRUM
It is very much in news, and yet people out there, seem to be ignorant about it.
What is it? Illegal crop burning in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana, vehicle exhaust emissions in a city with limited public transport, and swirling construction dust have caused the crisis, which arises every year. (NDTV, November 9, 2017)
Delhi pollution level
Air quality index (AQI) at 7.30 am, November 9, was recorded at 468 (Severe category)
These steps have been taken so far:
Source: Economic Times, Nov 9, 2017
- The Delhi government has brought back odd-even plan to check rising pollution level in the capital. It will be implemented from Nov 13 and will end on Nov 17, and like last time two-wheelers and women drivers will be exempt.
- National Green Tribunal (NGT) has banned construction and industrial activities in Delhi-NCR till November 14 , 2017.
- NGT has also directed directs civic bodies to constitute teams to ensure there is no burning of waste in Delhi-NCR. The green panel has also asked authorities to implement EPCA’s directions to improve ambient air quality.
- It has also directed sprinkling of water where PM 10 is found to be in excess of 600 micrograms per cubic metre.
- Schools in Delhi and Punjab remain shut till Sunday.
Source: Hindustan Times, Nov 9, 2017
- Environment ministry forms seven-member committee to monitor short-term and long-term solutions to air pollution, reports PTI (5:48 PM today)
- The odd even scheme will be implemented from 8 am to 8 pm.
- Banning trucks and closing schools have been taken in response to the worsening Delhi air quality.
Source: The Hindu, Nov 9, 2017
- Hike in parking fee by four times has been done to discourage own vehicle use.
- Issuing a slew of directions as immediate measures to control pollution in Delhi-NCR, the Delhi High court banned felling of trees, ordered sprinkling of water on roads to control dust and strict enforcement of construction code to ensure that the air is not polluted further.
Source :NDTV, November 9, 2017
- A Delhi government advisory has urged anyone with breathing difficulties to remain indoors and said everyone should avoid strenuous activity.
- PM 2.5 is particulate matter about 30 times finer than a human hair. The particles
Delhi Smog 2017 (Source: Indian Express, November 9, 2017)
can be inhaled deep into the lungs, causing heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and respiratory diseases. Delhi registered levels of over 600 today – 12 times over the safe limit.
Source : Indian Express, November 9, 2017
- The National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) has sent notices to the Centre and the governments of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana in view of “life-threatening” pollution levels in the national capital and nearby regions. The rights panel criticised authorities for not taking proper steps to tackle the “hazard”, amounting to violation of right to life and health.
How to protect oneself from the harmful effects of smog?
Source: Economic Times, November 9, 2017
Indian Medical Association declared a ‘public health emergency’ in Delhi on November 7, 2017.
- Avoid cardio workout
- Get the right mask – Get a respirator that is rated N95/N99/FFP3 or is ‘NIOSH Approved’ that filters out more than 95% of particles (larger than 0.3 microns)
- Stay hydrated
- Don’t ignore sustained symptoms – Keep the allergy kit ready with required medicines, inhalers and nebulisers if you have a family member with respiratory illness.
- Invest in an air purifier
- Plant some natural air purifiers in your surroundings, like Aloe Vera and Spider Plant which suck up all the pollutants
- Consult doctor if symptoms persist – Exposure to bad air quality may lead to initial symptoms like coughing, irritation in eyes and nose, sore throat, asthma or wheezing, and tiredness. But prolonged exposure may have serious consequences on health causing stroke, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and even lung cancer. Asthmatic patients should carry their inhalers at all time.
Stay informed, stay protected.
This information has been taken from reliable sources. Therefore, it would be nice if you share it further. Thanks for reading!
I was searching for inspiration on how I can play my part for the World Environment Day, 2017 (June 5). I could not do much; however, on my visit to Trivandrum, I discovered that the society we stayed in had robust waste segregation measures in place.
Every flat of the society was allotted two garbage bins – a green and a blue one, with lids. Rules regarding waste segregation were posted in the lobby area of each of the building of the society. Wet waste needs to be put in the green bin and the ‘other wastes’ in the blue bin. Clarification was provided regarding ways of disposal of the latter which included a wide range of household waste.
Among the rules was a critical line – the non-segregated waste will ‘NOT’ be picked up by the door-to-door waste collection personnel.
I was impressed with the efficacy of the system.
Further, I decide to see what happens to the segregated waste. I was further surprised that the society complex had an in-built waste treatment system in place. I was told that while the food waste is composted, the other waste (that which cannot be recycled) is incinerated. There was a sewage treatment plant as well, all built in the basement of the building. (See the pictures below) The use of incinerator for combustion of household waste can be debated; however, recycling is definitely a safe, sustainable option.
The bottom line is that pro-active, futuristic buildings have already starting doing their bit. Waste here is treated as a ‘resource’ as food waste generates manure for the up-keeping of the park area of the building. Further, the recyclable waste fetches some revenue; and this way, the entire bulk of household waste is prevented from becoming an eye-sore in some part of the city, as well as a social and environmental nuisance (remember, gases from waste decomposition in landfills contribute to the dangerous ‘climate change’).
The Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan in India has already made ‘Waste Segregation’ a theme for this year’s World Environment Day. The real difference will be when this is done in every household and every building in our country. and our world..!
…Wishing a very happy and inspiring ‘World Environment Day’ to all!
Posted in Climate Change, Environment events, Environmental facts, Sustainability, swachh bharat mission, Waste Management
Tagged composting, Environment conservation, incineration, recycling, waste management, WED, wed 2017, world environment day